Gruppo Cimbali returns to the world of cycling with Faema’s official sponsorship of the Giro d’Italia.
The annual Giro d’Italia is one of the most iconic cycling events in Italy, if not the world. Since 1909, the multi-stage race has become a symbol of athletic endurance and community spirit as hundreds of riders weave their way through the hillsides, towns, and picturesque Italian landscapes.
Italian espresso machine manufacturer Faema sponsored its own Faema team from the 1950s to 1970s, which to this day, remains one of the most successful teams of the Giro d’Italia. More than 50 years later, Faema has returned to cycling and its sponsorship of the iconic race.
“We really wanted to return to the world of cycling and enter into this partnership with the Giro d’Italia. Faema will be official sponsor of the competition for the next three years. We believe this partnership will rekindle in the hearts of fans that old love that has been going on since the early 1950s,” says Enrico Bracesco, General Manager of Gruppo Cimbali.
That love extends to Marta Kokosar, Gruppo Cimbali Communications Director and company coordinator of the Giro d’Italia project, who would go to watch the final stage of the race with her grandfather as a child.
“My grandfather would take me to watch the end of the race outside the Cathedral in Milan – with his bike,” Marta recalls.
“The Giro is a race that unifies the country with routes from the south to the north of Italy, and a festival of activities and regional races that runs the year-round. The riders cycle nearly 200 kilometres every day for a month, no other sport has so much fatigue and endurance.”
One rider who has experienced this firsthand is former professional cyclist and Faema team rider Eddy Merckx of Belgium, who won his first major stage race at the Giro d’Italia in 1968.
“That first year with Faema I won the Giro, I had the pink jersey for 13 days and I won four stages. It was the first great success for me, and it was for the Faema team,” says Eddy, speaking with Marta.
“I remember that we always drank an espresso before the race and we were also given a free uniform because we always had to be dressed well to represent the company with class, and I liked this a lot. They also gave us shoes… and socks, with the inscription ‘Faema’.”
From 1968 to 1970, the Faema team became known as “Faemino-Faema” but Eddy says it was always the same, strong group of riders.
To announce Faema’s renewed partnership, Faema held a press conference with the nephews of Italian cyclist Learco Guerra, who presented his original pink woollen jersey used to win the Giro d’Italia for team Faema in 1931. The race was first organised in 1909 to increase sales of the newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, of which the logo is still evident on the front of the jersey.
That jersey is now on loan at Gruppo Cimbali’s MUMAC museum thanks in a special exhibition titled ‘Never Ending Love’, which tells the love and history that has united Faema and cycling for almost 70 years.
To demonstrate its more recent innovations, Faema presented its custom E61 and Faema President, and its latest machine Faemina – in the pink colours of the Giro – to the cyclists and spectators at the starting village each morning before the commencement of the race stage. For the riders, it was an opportunity to enjoy an espresso each morning, and for spectators, it was their first experience of the Faemina espresso machine designed for the home and small business environment.
“The Giro d’Italia is certainly an excellent showcase for making people aware of Faema and expanding our target audience. Thanks to our broad product portfolio and careful reading of market needs, this is a development strategy that we continue to pursue successfully, seizing the best commercial and visibility opportunities,” says Enrico.
Marta says that spectators have enjoyed having a nice coffee from the range of Faema machines, in addition to learning about Faema’s history and connection to the Giro d’Italia and discovering its new innovations. “It’s a big opportunity for us because one day those customers may become our ambassadors,” Marta says.
While the internet provides one method of interaction, Maurizio Cimbali, President of Gruppo Cimbali, recalls watching the third to last stage of the 1956 Giro on television when the cyclists arrived at Monte Bondone in raining, freezing conditions.
“Of the 80 riders, only 42 remained in the race and managed to finish the stage. Among them was [Faema rider Charly Gaul], lifted by the spectators who were watching, and Fiorenzo Magni who, at the age of 36, came third in that legendary stage with a broken collarbone and holding his handlebars with an inner tube clenched between his teeth, ending his career that year with a second place,” Maurizio recalls.
“The event made me realise how great humans are, beyond being riders, and that stages are not only won through great physical prowess, but also with the heart.”
It is with this sentiment that Faema is helping spread awareness of World Bicycle Relief, a non-profit organisation specialising in a bicycle distribution program to help reduce poverty in areas where even the most basic forms of transport are lacking.
“World Bicycle Relief does incredible work making bicycles in Africa, and donating them to people in rural communities, places where bikes are crucial to the environment. They help kids go to school, act as ambulances to transport sick people, and move goods or cargo,” Marta says.
To support World Bicycle Relief, Faema, in partnership with Technogym, set up a stationary bike at its booth in the starting village of each layover. One dollar for every kilometer cycled was donated to World Bicycle Relief. Donations could also be made through joining Faema’s virtual cycling Strava club.
Cycling remains deeply rooted into the fabric of Italian society. After the Second World War, Italians used bicycle riding to gain more confidence and connect with other villages.
“Italy was very poor after the war and bicycle riding became one way we could get around and do things, especially for women. That’s why cycling is a strong part of the Italian culture,” Marta says.
The Giro d’Italia did not run for two years because of the war, but ever since, Marta says it’s become an important event that has united the country and showed the Italian people they could still stand together.
“There are some similarities to this with the past two years of the pandemic but once again, cycling – and sharing a coffee – has become a way to bring people back together,” Marta says. “There’s a real sense of normalcy in Italy again. People line the streets cheering the rides, there’s a party in the village each day, and it really has connected communities.”
Faema hopes to further contribute to that community connection next year when it evolves its storytelling and shares more of the many values the family-owned company believe ins, such as its commitment to sustainability.
Until then, Marta is looking forward to celebrating the result of the Giro d’Italia on 29 May in the northern town of Verona, where the town centre will be decorated in the pink colours of the Giro.
“It will be a very emotional and special end to what’s been an incredible return back to the Faema’s support of the Giro d’Italia – and we can’t wait to do it all again next year,” she says.
For more information, visit www.faema.com/int-en/
This article appears in the June 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.